FRIDAY night marked the end of an era for Ardeer Thistle’s under 20 side.

It comes as manager Ryan ‘Doc’ Docherty took charge of his last game at the helm of the youth side.

And it was an “emotional” occasion for Docherty, who has managed the group for nearly half a decade - having been in charge of the club when they were a TASS youth team, prior to joining the set up at Thistle.

Circumstances have left him unable to continue in the role - with he and his partner expecting a child in the coming weeks, and a change in his work status he feels he “wouldn’t be able to commit to the role the way it deserves”.

Though ‘Doc’ will maintain a role within the wider Ardeer set up as ‘head of youth development’.

Docherty’s last match in charge came on Friday, as his side hosted Darvel under 20s - in an occasion dubbed “the last dance” by fellow coaches.

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The departing manager was given a guard of honour as well as cards and gifts from his players post match - something he admitted “brought a tear to my eye”.

Despite a disappointing 4-1 loss on the night, it did not take the shine off what has been a fantastic few years at the club for Doc.

Speaking to the club’s social media after the match, he commented: “I was surprised [by the guard of honour]. I wasn’t expecting it.

“I think it shows the boys appreciation for the amount of time I give up - anyone that’s involved in coaching knows it’s not just turning up for training twice a week and turning up for a game - it’s a full time job.

“I got a wee bit emotional when they done it - it was nice, because I appreciate them as well and all the commitment they’ve given me throughout the years.”

While first team manager Sean Kenney also paid homage to his departing youth team boss.

He said: “I can’t thank Ryan enough for the work he’s done since coming with me to the club.

“The number of under 20s players who have came through and been established first team players is a massive credit to him and his coaching staff.”